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Back in 1994, McDonogh acquired a real treasure: Mrs. Nancy Cooper, who arrived from Glenelg Country School to teach fifth grade English.
Mrs. Cooper just has a knack for understanding the needs of all her students and she truly cares about their development. As a colleague says of her: "I am right there to see how amazingly far she takes her students in a year. It is deeply impressive to see the depth of their growth under Mrs. Cooper’s care.”
In her 35 plus years as a teacher of English and for a time as assistant head of the middle school, it is impossible to guess how many lives Mrs. Cooper has touched, how many writers she has inspired. That number would be multiplied even further if we tried to figure out how many times a student has laughed in her classroom. Mrs. Cooper is very funny and very smart.
Teaching grammar is not always the most exciting topic, but Mrs. Cooper always tries to make learning fun. How many of you have had to “give her fifty” because you misspelled the words in the Honor Code? Or were sent to desk jail because you kept turning around in class to talk to someone? Or were told “Humma Mumma” because you didn’t stop to think before you spoke and what you said didn't make a lot of sense?
Mrs. Cooper once reflected on what it takes to be a good English teacher. She explained that students need to be writing and they need feedback on that writing, which means lots of homework for the teacher. Then she added: “There is never a time when I am home that there isn’t something about my students or my curriculum that’s nagging at me.”
That’s why Mrs. Cooper is such a remarkable teacher.
Plus, she is both a mind-reader and a matchmaker. She knows what her students like and connects them with books they will enjoy. Years later, alums say they are still reading books by authors that Mrs. Cooper recommended.
If she weren’t teaching English, Mrs. Cooper once said she’d like to work at Barnes and Noble. “Wouldn’t it be wonderful .. all those books and people who love books, but no deadline for reading them!”
Mrs. Cooper, we know you won’t miss those deadlines. But we also know that your students past and present will remain in your thoughts for years to come. Just as you will remain in theirs … when they think about the teacher who taught them to write well or the one who taught them to love books.
Your fifth-grade team colleagues will miss you tremendously, Mrs. Cooper. You are still very much a treasure. Thank you for everything. Enjoy your retirement.